Fun in the sun (and slime)
July 25th, 2011
10:44 AM ET

Thick, green algae covers 200 square miles of Yellow Sea

Almost 200 square miles (500 square kilometers) of the Yellow Sea off China are covered by a massive bloom of green algae, according to a report from China's Xinhua news service.

The bloom has spread to almost 7,400 square miles (19,050 square kilometers) in total and is expected to grow, Xinhua reported, citing the North China Sea Marine Forecasting Center of State Oceanic Administration.

The algae bloom threatens marine life as it sucks oxygen from the water although the algae itself is not poisonous, according to the Xinhua report.

Researchers don't know what causes the massive algae blooms, first seen in the Yellow Sea in 2007.

Tons of the green algae had to be removed in 2008 to make way for sailing events at the Summer Olympics.

"We don't know where it originated and why it's suddenly growing so rapidly," Bao Xianwen from the Qingdao-based Ocean University of China, told the China Daily earlier this month. "It must have something to do with the change in the environment, but we are not scientifically sure of the reasons."

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Filed under: China
soundoff (427 Responses)
  1. Jules Kirby

    Algae is driectly related to water pollution from oil sewage and metals. China is a serious threat to our planet's safety.

    July 25, 2011 at 11:44 am | Report abuse |
    • conexes

      Eh, the planet's fine. China does what it does best: pollute and grow. America can learn quite a bit off those little weirdos

      July 25, 2011 at 11:53 am | Report abuse |
    • Toetotoe

      "...China is a serious threat to our planet's safety..."

      No Doubt. But no other country is one as well? And what do you suggest we, or they, do? We seem to have problems
      also -with about one forth the population on about the same size land mass.

      July 25, 2011 at 12:01 pm | Report abuse |
    • BeInformed

      Really?? Ya think China is the only country that has widespread pollution? Have you been to India, Russia, and the former Eastern block countries? Do you know that the Chinese govt has put in more money on green tech than the US? Sure, there are polluters, but that's because the industrialists are more concerned about making money (much like those in the US).

      July 25, 2011 at 2:09 pm | Report abuse |
  2. Seriously?!

    It's called eutrophication, every freshman biology classes covers it – excess of nutrients. The Chinese government can not seriously expect people to believe that no one in their environmental branch knows what this is. Another way for them to hoodwink their people.

    July 25, 2011 at 11:45 am | Report abuse |
  3. cm

    ick! Probably humans fault.

    July 25, 2011 at 11:45 am | Report abuse |
  4. Grumpster

    Someone should find a way to haravest this stuff and either use it for food, fertilizer or fuel.

    July 25, 2011 at 11:46 am | Report abuse |
    • John

      Why not use it to manufacture biodiesel?

      July 25, 2011 at 1:55 pm | Report abuse |
  5. Susser

    Clean up the algae, and process it into a BIO-DIESEL! There, just killed two birds with one stone. Thank me later China

    July 25, 2011 at 11:46 am | Report abuse |
  6. G.W. Bush

    Yeah, good luck taking your green planet poop to my friends in China. Poop, hee hee.

    July 25, 2011 at 11:46 am | Report abuse |
  7. Moe Green

    "Like Salad" – Toshiro Takashi

    July 25, 2011 at 11:47 am | Report abuse |
  8. Geoff Hamilton

    That looks beautiful.

    July 25, 2011 at 11:48 am | Report abuse |
    • Che-3

      YACK if you ask me!

      July 25, 2011 at 1:42 pm | Report abuse |
  9. Andre the Giant

    Scoop it up and make ethanol.

    July 25, 2011 at 11:49 am | Report abuse |
  10. xdougx

    Only the chinese would actually go swimming in it! haha

    July 25, 2011 at 11:49 am | Report abuse |
  11. Chas in Iowa

    Eutrophication can be the first sign of an enviroment gone amuck.
    This should be taken very seriously. Warmer temperature and pollution most likely.

    July 25, 2011 at 11:50 am | Report abuse |
  12. Jim

    Why wouldn't CNN actually investigate this story? Why would the only person quoted be a government official? Their comments are useless.

    Is this a news site?

    July 25, 2011 at 11:51 am | Report abuse |
    • For Serious

      First of all, you would be the first person to complain if they DIDN'T quote a government official on something like this. You just want to whine about a website that you obviously can tolerate enough to visit without a gun pressed to your head.
      Furthermore, there is obviously some sort of pollution issue that the government doesn't wish to share with the public/world. Why don't you try your hand at getting the Chinese government to open up about a topic once they've resolved to keep it quiet?

      Good luck...

      July 25, 2011 at 12:02 pm | Report abuse |
    • Che-3

      "Jim" you state its “useless news?”
      Maybe to your bone head if you ask me! It’s called "INFORMATION" on a Global Scale for those of us with very active engaged brain cells. It’s “useless news” yet, you took the time to scratch a note instead of moving on.
      I bet you were looking for empty air head Sarah Palin to say it on FRAUX News before you will deem it as News worthy.

      July 25, 2011 at 1:51 pm | Report abuse |
  13. mike

    Use it, great fertilizer. probly made from the tons of fertilizer entering the ocean. Ok China, if you havent noticed, you pollute the world like no one else. Get with the program and stop trying to hide it. When it comes to this, you cant hide it anymore

    July 25, 2011 at 11:54 am | Report abuse |
  14. ND

    Yellow sea??? Time to change the name to Green sea. Wonder if all the oil spills have anything to do with it

    July 25, 2011 at 11:55 am | Report abuse |
    • Me

      Really? Your thesis is that oil spills in the gulf of mexico caused this bloom? Are you aware of the ammount of oil present naturally in the ocean? The oil spill in the gulf was like pouring a can of peer into a football stadium full of water, and that was the gulf, not the entire ocean supply. If you want to continue to speculate, be my guest, but your first response is woefully ignorant.

      July 25, 2011 at 12:12 pm | Report abuse |
    • mike

      "Me" you're being a real jerk. ND was just making a comment and you have to jump down their throat and try to show how much smarter you are. Their comment might be "woefully ignorant" but your comment is woefully arrogant. How's that for a thesis? :p

      July 25, 2011 at 12:31 pm | Report abuse |
  15. Connor

    "Sucks oxygen from the water" Last time I checked, algae is a plant, and plants are photosynthetic, meaning it "creates" oxygen. Although, I would imagine that an extremely high level of oxygen would be poisonous to fish as it is to humans.

    July 25, 2011 at 11:55 am | Report abuse |
    • Crowded

      Best to do research before replying. Algae adds oxygen in the day, but sucks it up at night. Also, decaying algae also reduces the O2 sat in the water. That is why large algae growth kills fishes.. they suffocate.

      July 25, 2011 at 11:59 am | Report abuse |
    • J

      trolling = idiots

      July 25, 2011 at 12:04 pm | Report abuse |
    • Connor


      "Algae are photosynthetic organisms". Wikipedia gives more info:

      "Many are photoautotrophic, although some groups contain members that are mixotrophic, deriving energy both from photosynthesis and uptake of organic carbon either by osmotrophy, myzotrophy, or phagotrophy."

      Oxygen is useless byproduct in the Calvin cycle anyway, so I'm not sure why they would need to re-absorb it.

      July 25, 2011 at 12:09 pm | Report abuse |
    • abrous

      Aww woe is thee who turns to Wikipedia for expert advice...

      July 25, 2011 at 12:14 pm | Report abuse |
    • Connor

      That's why I cited a source other than Wikipedia 😉

      July 25, 2011 at 12:15 pm | Report abuse |
    • DanFromIowa

      I was thinking the same thing. Algae, being a green plant, would utilize CO2 and expel oxygen. I'm not saying the article is wrong, but it should expain if it veers from common knowledge.

      July 25, 2011 at 12:23 pm | Report abuse |
    • random scientist

      Plants are photosynthetic, meaning they use sunlight and CO2 to make their own food (sugars). However, after making it, they need to *eat it* to extract the stored energy. Metabolizing the sugars made through photosynthesis results in the consumption of O2 and produces CO2. Additionally, excess algae is buried too deep in the algal mass to receive sunshine and dies. This dead algae is then degraded by bacteria, which also utilize O2 to break down the biomolecules in the algae and produce CO2. The result of algal blooms is anoxic regions in the water, and the death of plants and animals through suffocation.

      The most likely cause of this is excess phosphorus and nitrates in the water as a result of runoff of fertilizers and animal waste from farming.

      July 25, 2011 at 12:42 pm | Report abuse |
    • Mike

      Crowded is dead on. They may undergo photosynthesis during the day, producing oxygen, but at night they undergo cellular respiration, depleting oxygen levels. Also, the bacteria that feed on dead algae continue to use up large amounts of oxygen.

      More Wikipedia sources!

      July 25, 2011 at 12:44 pm | Report abuse |
    • Che-3

      Can this "oxygen" be bottled and given to all these BRAINLESS GOP and its evil, brain dead Tea Baggars to nourish their delusional crazy brain cells?

      July 25, 2011 at 2:00 pm | Report abuse |
    • KarmaD

      You left off the final way in which an algae bloom creates a dead spot. The mass that grows as a very thick carpet prevents any diffusion or water currents from carrying surface oxygen to the depths where other animals need it. Thus, it robs the oxygen through aerobic decomposition, prevents water flow from bringing in new oxygen-rich water, and blocks the sunlight, as this thick mat slowly sinks.
      The good news is that it will eventually be covered on the ocean floor by more soil and other dying material and turn into oil in a few million years...

      July 25, 2011 at 2:27 pm | Report abuse |
    • Bubba

      Hey, I can imagine that the green algae is a monster from Neptune and it's gonna eat all those bathers and then attack Tokyo. I can imagine it, but that doesn't make it true. Next time look it up first, THEN post.

      July 25, 2011 at 4:10 pm | Report abuse |
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